Lymphedema - Frequently Asked Questions
What is Lymphedema?
When lymph vessels are unable to carry protein rich fluid through the lymph system, it causes an accumulation or congestion of fluid resulting in swelling or lymphedema.
I have heard about Lymph Drainage Therapy, what is it?
Lymph drainage therapy aims to move lymph fluid out of the congested area to decrease swelling and its related symptoms using special manual lymph drainage techniques. We have the names of several people in our area who are trained and qualified to do manual lymph drainage. Often this type of treatment is covered by your extended benefits, but you will need to check with your carrier to see if they cover massage therapy as it falls under that category.
My doctor has recommended that I wear a compression garment, what do they really do?
Compression is important for the treatment and prevention of lymphedema. Using compression garments tor bandages correctly is important to the outcome of the swelling to make sure it is contained or lessened. Here at My Left Breast, we are a registered Assistive Devices Vendor and are Certified Fitters for Lymphedema compression garments.
I have noticed that since my surgery, I have a heavy feeling in my arm should I be worried? What now?
We would recommend that you visit your doctor, and then someone who is trained in Lymph Drainage Therapy so that they can assess your situation and make recommendations. We have contact information for people locally who are trained in this area.
Can I prevent Lymphedema?
There are no guarantees, but if you have had breast surgery, radiation or lymph nodes removed, you may be able to lessen the risk by wearing a compression sleeve when you fly or travel at high alttiudes, speak to your health care practitioner.
I have heard that compression sleeves are very expensive?
The Ontario Ministry of Health Assistive Devices Program offers assistance for Pressure Modification Devices such as custom compression sleeves, compression stockings,etc. We are a registered Assistive Devices Vendor and are Certified Fitters. For more information click the link. If you have questions we are only to happy to answer what we can.
Things you should know about:
Always wear sunscreen, gloves and insect repellent when necessary. Skin should be kept clean and soft. Moistrurizing daily with lotion that equalizes the pH balance in your skin is important.
Sunburns, cuts, burns, bruises, insect bites, razor burns, cuticule trimming etc., can all lead to inflammatory responses on the affected limb, creating an increase in swelling.
Any cuts should be washed and treated with antibiotic cream and any infections should be treated with oral antibotics or IV antibiotics immediately.
If a rash, itching, pain, redness, increased skin temperature, fever, flu-like symptoms occur, contact your physician immediately for early treatment of possible infection.
Exercise can be beneficial in maintaining lymphedema. Light stretching, swimming, biking and low weight training are excellent ways to exercise. Remember to always wear your compression garment when exercising. The Lymph system is pumped by your muscles, so moving is good.